Friday, March 16, 2007

Why I Bristle When People Ask Me What My Book Is About

by James Bernard Frost

World Leader Pretend has been out for almost three weeks now, and I still don't have my talking point down: that very simple two-line answer that every writer who has ever written a book is supposed to have when asked what their book is about.

The reason for that is this: for seven years I have been trying to figure out how to reword my response so that people's brains don't instantly shut off.

My Answer: World Leader Pretend follows the lives of an international cast of characters involved in playing an online fantasy game.

Your Brain: Fantasy game. Ick. I hate those things. I don't want to read that. I'm not a science fiction reader.

Saying World Leader Pretend is about online gaming is like saying Huckleberry Finn is about river rafting. Online gaming is simply a metaphor for me to talk about the current human state of connectedness and disconnectedness.

So, anyway, I wish people would ask me better questions, because then I would have better answers.

Q: Forget the plot, what's it really about?

A: It's about how the Internet has changed our lives.

Q: Will the book make me see the world in a different light?

A: I'd like to think so.

Q: Is it a thoughtful book or a mass-market page-turner?

A: It's thoughtful. And it's a page-turner.

Q: Is the book different from every other book out there?

A: Totally.

Q: Do you discuss politics?

A: Yes.

Q: Is there sex in it?

A: Yes, lots of sex. And no, it's not really appropriate for your young adolescent, despite the "fantasy" distinction. (I hate that it got categorized this way, one of the pitfalls about writing about technology. Everyone assumes that technology equals sci-fi.)

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